Results tagged ‘ Ron Villone ’

Nats make roster moves; Mock almost in rotation

The Nationals made their third round of roster cuts Monday as they optioned right-hander Collin Balester and left-hander Atahualpa Severino to Triple-A Syracuse, right-hander Ryan Mattheus and left-hander Aaron Thompson to Double-A Harrisburg and right-hander Juan Jamie to Class-A Potomac. The Nationals also released left-hander Ron Villone.

With the moves, Washington’s Major League roster is now down to 45 players.

Of the names off the roster, Balester, Thompson and Villone were the most intriguing. Villone was a favorite of manager Jim Riggleman’s. Last season, Villone was the veteran leader of the bullpen, pitching in 63 games and had a 4.25 ERA. This spring, Villone was hit hard, allowing three runs in 1 2/3 innings. 

“That was tough, not just for me but for [general manager Mike] Rizzo, [pitching coach] Steve McCatty and a lot of people in the clubhouse in general,” Riggleman said. “He is such a class act. He is a wonderful guy. He was an effective pitcher for us last year.”

With Villone gone, the Nationals most likely will carry one lefty reliever — Sean Burnett — on the 25-man roster, even though left-handers Jesse English and Doug Slaten are still in camp.

Riggleman has often said he is confident that right-hander Tyler Clippard can get left-handed hitters out. Lefties hit .122 against him last year.  

Thompson, who was acquired in the Nick Johnson trade last July, pitched four shutout innings and impressed the big-league staff, but he wasn’t considered part of the mix. Riggleman hinted that right-handed Garrett Mock has been impressive and most likely be in the rotation. Mock hasn’t walked a batter in five innings entering Monday’s action. 

“It’s very important to him to pitch to contact and that is not easy for him,” Riggleman said about Mock. “When your ball moves a lot, sometimes it could move out of the strike zone. But he has been able to keep his movement in the strike zone. Even when he doesn’t throw a strike, it has the appearance of a strike. So hitters might swing at it. That’s huge.” 

Livan  Hernandez is considered the leading candidate to take over the fifth spot of the rotation. John Lannan, Jason Marquis and Scott Olsen are already in the rotation.  

Inconsistency is the reason Balester was sent down, giving up four runs in four innings. Rizzo believes Balester has the pitches to get people out.

“The stuff is there,” Rizzo said. “He has a good fastball and a good breaking pitch at times. We still have high hopes for him. He is going to go down and master his craft, get him in the strike zone a little better and be more consistently.”                   

Nats do not offer arbitration to free agents

The Nationals did not offer arbitration to any of their free agents, which include catcher Josh Bard, right-hander Livan Hernandez, outfielder Austin Kearns, left-hander Ron Villone and first baseman Dmitri Young.

None of the players were Type A or B free agents — rankings are based on a player’s performance during the previous two seasons.

In the last two seasons, Young played in only 50 games because of illness and injury. His best season with the Nationals was in 2007 when hit .320 with 13 home runs and 74 RBIs, earning National League Comeback Player of the Year honors.

Villone is arguably the only Nationals free agent, who has a chance of coming back to the organization. Manager Jim Riggleman called the reliever a leader by example, because he wants to pitch on a regular basis and watches the game from the dugout after completing his work on the mound. Villone pitched in 63 games and had a 4.25 ERA.

“Ronnie sets a great example,” Riggleman said in August. “He takes the ball more than anybody. He is 39 years old, but he is willing to pitch every day, which I think says a lot. It indicates to some other pitchers that this guy has been around a long time.”  

Kearns was a great teammate and worked hard, but one could argue that he was the biggest disappointment in Nationals history when it came to his offense. He came to Washington with a lot of hype after then -general manager Jim Bowden acquired him from the Reds in July of 2006. 

The former GM predicted that Kearns would hit 40 home runs and drive in over 100 runs in a season, but that never happened. Kearns best season with the Nationals was in 2007, when he hit .266 with 16 home runs and 74 RBIs. A lot of baseball experts felt he was too vulnerable to inside pitches.

Injuries took a toll on Kearns during the next two seasons. He played only 86 games in 2008 because of elbow and foot problems.

This season was the worst season of his career, hitting .195 with three home runs and 17 RBIs.

Hernandez joined the Nationals as a free agent on Aug. 26 after the Mets released him six days earlier. His job was to give the Nationals innings and be a role model to the young pitching staff.  Hernandez pitched 48 2/3 innings and went 2-4 with a 5.36 ERA.

When catcher Jesus Flores missed most of the season with a right shoulder injury, Bard found himself in a platoon situation with Wil Nieves. Bard played in 90 games and hit .230 with two home runs and 31 RBIs.                      

Hinckley designated for assignment; Villone recalled

A day after watching their bullpen implode against the Dodgers, the Nationals designated left-hander Mike Hinckley for assignment and recalled left-hander Ron Villone from Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday.

Hinckley had a tough time throwing strikes, walking 11 batters in 9 2/3 innings. His last appearance was on Wednesday against Los Angeles. Hinckley didn’t retire a batter and gave up two runs on one hit.

Villone, who was signed by the Nationals in early April, will be a middle reliever. He had a 2.35 ERA in eight games for Syracuse.       

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